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John Fires Back

Cute Schnauzer PuppyDear John,

You recently gave advice to a Chesapeake Bay Retriever owner when she wrote about rough play with another dog and concern over how a little child would push things too far. I found it really disappointing. You perpetuated a stereotype of Chesapeakes being “vicious dogs” and ultimately said “give the thing away”. Not train the dog, socialize the dog, be the pack leader and teach the child to be respectful. You said “give it away”

Regardless of breed, any dog can make a great pet … but the owner does have to take time to do so.


Dear Ben,

The column was about a Chesapeake Bay Retriever that on more then one occasion “rough played” the Schnauzer into stitches.

I often hear that “Regardless of breed, any dog can make a great pet … but the owner does have to take time to do so.” When people say this to me they generally have known well 3 or 4 dogs in their lives. Without reservation I know that this is patently untrue and is insulting and hurtful to the people that have been faced with such a horrifying proposition. To start with many dogs are so poorly bred in a world where knowing the difference between a male and a female dog is all it takes to be a breeder. I have met countless dogs victimized physically and mentally by this cavalier approach to breeding and by victimized I mean put down.

Many breeders, dog trainers and owners like yourself mistakenly believe that a dog can be “socialized” out of behaviour like this. Significant socialization impact has been proven to exist up until 12 weeks give or take a couple weeks. This was an adult dog. If a dog’s behavior is as a result of what went on or didn’t go on during this period, nothing, absolutely nothing can make the dog “like” what it fears. They might with the right handler, training and environment be taught to exert better self control but not always. Even were it possible, not every owner has the skill set to address the severity of some problems. It’s the belief like yours that results in one out of two children being bitten by a dog before the age of twelve and get dogs like the poor Schnauzer killed.

I did not say Chessies were “vicious dogs” Their reputation or stereotype as you call it exists because of people that believe “Regardless of breed, any dog can make a great pet…” and lead other people to believe such naivety and purchase one expecting that they are the same a lab only to find out they are not.

If the owner was unable to handle this dog, it seemed likely that the other would have to live in fear of serious further injury – or worse, and instead of a “giving it away”, someone would be giving it a needle.

Pawsitively Yours

John Wade

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